There are three practices down and 12 more opportunities for Kwame Geathers to shine this spring at nose guard in Georgia’s 3-4 defense.
By the time preseason practices arrive in August, junior college transfer John Jenkins will be inserted into the middle of the Bulldogs’ defensive line.
Georgia coaches expect Jenkins will be an impact player.
"This spring is pretty big for me," Geathers said after practice Thursday. "I’ve just got to keep my work up, work hard and prove a point that I’ve just got to play hard every down."
Said coach Mark Richt: "He’s doing pretty good. He’s having a good start."
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham liked how Geathers, a redshirt sophomore, worked this winter after he had seven tackles in eight games last year as a backup.
"I think he busted his tail," Grantham said prior to spring practice. "I think competition makes everybody better, makes us all better."
Geathers still can have a role even with Jenkins on board.
"I’m trying to work even harder to be in the nickel package," Geathers said. "I’m learning the nickel better and I’ve got a better grasp of the system this year."
The 6-foot-6, 344-pound Geathers has put on weight, but has less body fat.
"The (strength) program, I buy into it and I worked at it with Coach T," Geathers said of new strength director Joe Tereshinski. "He’s still working me out, trying to keep me in shape."
‘A bunch of brothers’
There’s more encouragement among teammates in the Bulldogs’ second spring in the 3-4 defense, said junior inside linebacker Christian Robinson.
"We’re brothers," Robinson said. "That’s the main thing right now. We’re not a bunch of individuals, we’re a bunch of brothers that are out there playing a game, trying to play for the guy next to him."
Players are holding each other accountable more, Robinson said, after a 6-7 season.
"I think the guys that are here and that are playing right now, that coach Grantham has trust in, are those guys that stayed positive and kept working," Robinson said.
Robinson believes some players had a "cancerous attitude" last year, including talking down about teammates in the locker room and being too focused on themselves individually. Robinson would not name names.
"If you don’t have the right attitude, if you’re a me guy, you can’t have that," Robinson said. "I think the guys we have right now are the guys that are going to do it right. You don’t have too worry about having off-the-field issues and things like that.
"The guys that are here, that are going to stay here, that are doing the right things, you don’t have to worry about that. If they do, they know the consequences."
Richt said he likes the attitude of the team this spring.
"They’re working hard, they’re working real hard," he said. "There’s not a whole lot of griping and moaning."
Mason settles in
Hutson Mason couldn’t help but laugh to himself on the first day of spring practice during the installation of the offense.
While freshman quarterback Christian LeMay is the new kid on the scene, Mason had a season under his belt already after playing as Aaron Murray’s backup in 2010.
"I was thinking, ‘This is a whole lot easier in Round 2 than when I was sitting here like in LeMay’s spot,’ " said Mason, a sophomore from Lassiter High."It’s so much more relaxed. I understand things. Going through it the second time, it’s a lot easier to process stuff."
Mason saw action in four games last season, completing 9 of 17 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.
"I’m still learning and still trying to become better, but it’s slowed down for me a little bit," Mason said. "Instead of being so rushed up there, I understand the things and definitely feel like I’ve taken a step forward."
As for LeMay, Richt said: "I like his demeanor in the meeting room and in the huddle. When you work drills that don’t have 22 bodies moving at the same time, he does better, which is natural. He’s got very good ability, he just has to learn. … I think his fundamentals are pretty good. There’s some things he’s got to clean up a little bit."
This and that
The G-Day game on April 16 will be shown live on CSS at 1 p.m. Matt Stewart and former Georgia quarterback Buck Belue will call the end-of-spring scrimmage and Maria Taylor will be sideline reporter. … Reserve guard Dallas Lee did not practice Thursday because of "an asthma-like condition," Richt said. … Brandon Boykin, Tavarres King, Branden Smith and Carlton Thomas fielded kicks in the early portion of practice. … Richt is scheduled to give the keynote address at the Bronko Nagurski Trophy awards banquet on Dec. 12 in Charlotte. The Nagurski Trophy goes to the nation’s top defensive player. … Former Bulldogs A.J. Green and Justin Houston, who worked out at pro day on Tuesday, were at practice. … Georgia will practice for the first time in full pads on Saturday.